POLITICS

MPs gift themselves before recess: Senate, Lower Chamber approve their special pensions

The senators and deputies have made themselves a gift for the end of the season – on Tuesday, they adopted the special pension scheme. A total of 303 MPs voted in favour of the new pensions, by amending the Statute of MPs, and 124 opposed. The PSD, UDMR, minorities and PC MPs supported the draft, but PNL opposed.

The senators and deputies who have served one term in Parliament would cash approximately 1,550 lei, those with two terms – 3,100 lei, and those with minimum three terms – approximately 4,600 lei.

According to the draft law adopted on Tuesday, the deputies and senators who were convicted of corruption – offence committed as an MP – shall not receive the special pension.

The draft law changing the Statue of the Members of Parliament giving the senators and deputies a monthly pay for the activity in Parliament when they reach the legally required retirement age, after ending their work in Parliament, was tabled in the Chamber of Deputies on 15 April. The document was initially signed by 255 MPs, but some of them withdrew their signatures afterwards.

The law now needs to be promulgated by President Klaus Iohannis.

 

Anghel Stanciu, PSD: ‘Why are law-makers discriminated against compared to other categories?’

 

PSD MP Anghel Stanciu, currently serving his sixth term in Parliament, said before the plenary meeting of the Parliament that h supported the law on special pensions for MPs.

’16 December 2014 (16 November – editor’s note) was the day the colleagues claimed we took our country back. Today, 16 June 2015 is, in our view, the time to take our Parliament back. It is time that, today, dear fellows, 16 June, you meditated to the vote’, said Anghel Stanciu, quoted by Mediafax. He also gave an explanation for why he thought the MPs needed higher retirement benefits: ‘Why those who make the laws, the members of Parliament, are number 14 in the wage grid? Why are we being discriminated against compared to other categories? How can you be number 14 in the treatment grid? Where is equality?’

 

Alina Gorghiu: PNL voted against

 

PNL opposed the draft law increasing MPs pensions.

‘I request that the legislative proposal changing the Statute of MPs is removed from the agenda and sent back to the Committee for at least two weeks’, PNL MP Ludovic Orban said before the vote.

‘When you ran in election you didn’t tell the citizens that you intended to increase your own pensions. You know the legislation in the field very well. I understand we need a strong Parliament. But can a Parliament that no longer enjoys the trust of the public be strong? By voting for such a bill, you will take Parliament to a level of confidence lower than of any other institution in Romania. Can a Parliament that adopts emergency ordinances on conveyor belt and that turns a blind eye on all abuse be strong? (…) If you vote for this draft, you will show egoism to the people who sent us here not to resolve our own problems, but theirs’, Orban further said.

According to Alina Gorghiu, co-President of PNL, the law was ‘not opportune’. ‘A draft law which, in the opinion of PNL, was not opportune. There are so many things to deal with in this country right now. A few million Romanians have miserable pensions, so the MPs pensions were not a subject. We agree to increase pensions for political prisoners, for other categories of persons, but I don’t believe the MPs are a priority. I think we should respect the principle of contribution, including for MPs’, Alina Gorghiu said after the vote.

She also stressed that PNL had voted against the new law. However, regarding PNL MP Cornel Samartinean who had voted in favour, Gorghiu said he ‘wasn’t facing any sanction’. ‘The vote of MPs is not imperative. The rest of us complied with the political decision of the party.’

In what regards a possible contestation of the act before the Constitutional Court, the PNL co-chair said: ‘I don’t know at this time if there are arguments to challenge the law before CCR. There have been debates in the group. We will seriously see if there are arguments for challenging the action’.

On 9 May, Prime-Minister Victor Ponta said the Government was going to issue a negative opinion on the draft law introducing special retirement benefits for former members of Parliament, because of certain provisions in the agreement with the IMF.

At the time, the premier was asked what the position of the Executive would be. ‘Negative, of course. Under our agreement with the IMF’, was Ponta’s answer.

President Klaus Iohannis said, in April, answering a question on the draft law on special pensions for MPs, that, in his opinion, ‘it would be an exceptional thing if people of culture could benefit from such an entitlement’.

‘In my view, it would be an exceptional thing if the Parliament had the idea of giving special pensions to the people of culture’, said the president during a visit to the Bucharest National Theatre.

 

Monica Macovei: Political community ‘united in defending its interests’

MEP Monica Macovei claims the vote given in Parliament on the draft law introducing special pensions for MPs shows that the current political community is ‘united in defending its interests’.

‘The Mps, around Ponta, voted for even bigger special pensions, just because they served in Parliament for a period. The zeal of increasing Mps pensions would have been more useful for a more noble cause. What would it have been like if this union of votes existed when Sova or Ponta’s immunity was at stake?’ Monica Macovei said, according to Agerpres. The MEP also notes that PM Ponta did not attend the vote. ‘As usually, when institutions are attacked, when the Criminal Code is damaged or privileges are created in Parliament, Ponta is out of the country. Do you think he didn’t know what was going to happen?’ the MEP also says.

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